According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, xylazine was involved in fatal drug overdoses in 23 states in 2019.

Brooke Goodwin came home one night last March after being out with friends. She had just turned 23 the day before, had a good job and was planning to go away with friends the following weekend. Her mother, whose bedroom is next door to the kitchen, heard her daughter get some food and go to bed.

But Brooke never came downstairs the next day. Her older sister found her in her room. She had overdosed on a toxic mix of the powerful opioid fentanyl cut with xylazine, an animal sedative that is making its way into the illicit drug supply, particularly in the Northeast.

Her death has “just ripped us to shreds,” said her mother, Deb Walker, who has four other children.

“I didn’t even know Brooke was using drugs. I know absolutely she did not know that that was in there,” she said.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this autumn, xylazine was involved in fatal drug overdoses in 23 states in 2019, with the highest rate — 67% — happening in the Northeast. The animal sedative used in veterinary medicine to sedate cows, horses, sheep and other animals is being added to other drugs, mostly fentanyl and heroin, as a cutting agent, officials said.

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